By Chris Emma—
CHICAGO (CBS) – Taking accountability in the aftermath of his debut, Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky wanted all to know his team’s 20-17 loss to the Vikings at Soldier Field on Monday night was his fault.
Trubisky wanted this win badly and couldn’t get it done, for the Bears fans so eager to see their future at quarterback, for a coaching staff that suffered its 27th loss in the John Fox era and most importantly for the teammates whom he took the field with.
Of course, everyone knew that wasn’t true, but Trubisky accepted the responsibility anyway: His interception late in the fourth quarter set up the Vikings for the go-ahead field goal, leaving with no meaningful time left for a final Bears drive.
That’s what mattered, the final dagger among many in a collective letdown, a miscue that dropped his team to 1-4 on the season. So afterward, Trubisky stepped up like and acted like a leader should.
“I feel like that’s what a quarterback’s supposed to do,” Trubisky said. “That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. You just take it, especially when you make a play like that. You just feel like it was your fault and you could’ve done more to help our team win.”
Searching for something different with Trubisky’s promotion, the Bears were dealt the same hand in the highly anticipated game. They played the Vikings (3-2) tough but committed far too many mistakes and saw another turnover change the game.
Still, there was a different vibe around Soldier Field on Monday. Finally, there was the feeling of hope around a franchise desperate for better. The Bears made the bold trade from the third overall pick to the second slot in April’s draft, believing that Trubisky could be what they’ve long sought at quarterback. Chicago has been in an eternal search for its own Aaron Rodgers.
In his debut, Trubisky showed great promise while reminding that he’s just a rookie. He finished 12-of-25 for 128 yards, with a touchdown, an interception and a strip-sack fumble. The numbers were largely a reflection of a poor supporting cast at receiver. At the least, Trubisky brought greater function to an offense that was entirely lacking it with Mike Glennon.
Talents aside, Trubisky breaking the huddle was more than enough to lift the Bears.
“Our guys feel it,” Fox said. “They feel his presence.”
Added Trubisky: “Hopefully, the way I work and the way I carry myself lifts others up, because that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Trubisky will begin his harsh self-evaluations by Tuesday morning, a scheduled off day for the Bears. Fox figured that Trubisky would pop open his iPad on the postgame ride back to Lake Forest and begin studying what went wrong.
He already knows what went wrong on that decisive interception, which landed in the arms of Vikings safety Harrison Smith. With Trubisky rolling right, the early part of the play unfolded much like his first career touchdown pass, a 20-yard tip-drill completion to Zach Miller, did earlier in the fourth quarter.
Trubisky tried to be a gun-slinger. On both the touchdown and interception, he threw across his body, tried to force a ball in and hit a defender. One throw bounced to Miller, the other went to Smith.
“Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t,” Trubisky said.
There’s no doubt what Trubisky could become. The talent was evident Monday.
Trubisky’s first career completion came on a dart to Kendall Wright, hitting him in stride on an out route along the sidelines. He routinely looked downfield and connected, something Glennon simply couldn’t do in the first four games.
Backed up to third-and-13 late in the third quarter, Trubisky sensed pressure to his blind side, escaped to his right and ran for 13 yards and the first down. His instincts were immediate, and the pure athleticism shined. There were plenty of highlights on the night.
Trubisky said that the atmosphere at Soldier Field is something he’ll cherish when reflecting back years later. Those in attendance will remember the throw across his body for that first touchdown pass and the electrifying two-point conversion that followed to tie the game.
But Trubisky is his own harshest critic and will struggle with this, a game that could’ve been won. He wanted to be the hero but made a costly mistake.
That throw that shouldn’t have been was what brought Trubisky to teammates with a heavy burden on his shoulders.
“I felt it was on me, but they know I’m going to go back to work,” he said. “I’m going to fix my mistakes. I’m going to watch this film and be critical of myself. They know I’m going to get better. I appreciate them having faith in me and having my back.”
Though the disappointment is strong after a loss like this, the Bears can leave Soldier Field with a good feeling about what’s to come. Reward is unlikely this season, but it’s just the beginning for their young quarterback who flashed in his debut.
Defeat hits hard, but perhaps there’s glory ahead for Trubisky.